A Tramp Abroad



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CHAPTER XXVI. [The Nest of the Cuckoo-clock]

The Hofkirche is celebrated for its organ concerts. All summer long the tourists flock to that church about six o’clock in the evening, and pay their franc, and listen to the noise. They don’t stay to hear all of it, but get up and tramp out over the sounding stone floor, meeting late comers who tramp in in a sounding and vigorous way. This tramping back and forth is kept up nearly all the time, and is accented by the continuous slamming of the door, and the coughing and barking and sneezing of the crowd. Meantime, the big organ is booming and crashing and thundering away, doing its best to prove that it is the biggest and best organ in Europe, and that a tight little box of a church is the most favorable place to average and appreciate its powers in. It is true, there were some soft and merciful passages occasionally, but the tramp-tramp of the tourists only allowed one to get fitful glimpses of them, so to speak. Then right away the organist would let go another avalanche.

The commerce of Lucerne consists mainly in gimcrackery of the souvenir sort; the shops are packed with Alpine crystals, photographs of scenery, and wooden and ivory carvings. I will not conceal the fact that miniature figures of the Lion of Lucerne are to be had in them. Millions of them. But they are libels upon him, every one of them. There is a subtle something about the majestic pathos of the original which the copyist cannot get. Even the sun fails to get it; both the photographer and the carver give you a dying lion, and that is all. The shape is right, the attitude is right, the proportions are right, but that indescribable something which makes the Lion of Lucerne the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world, is wanting.

The Lion lies in his lair in the perpendicular face of a low cliff—for he is carved from the living rock of the cliff. His size is colossal, his attitude is noble. His head is bowed, the broken spear is sticking in his shoulder, his protecting paw rests upon the lilies of France. Vines hang down the cliff and wave in the wind, and a clear stream trickles from above and empties into a pond at the base, and in the smooth surface of the pond the lion is mirrored, among the water-lilies.

Around about are green trees and grass. The place is a sheltered, reposeful woodland nook, remote from noise and stir and confusion—and all this is fitting, for lions do die in such places, and not on granite pedestals in public squares fenced with fancy iron railings. The Lion of Lucerne would be impressive anywhere, but nowhere so impressive as where he is.

Martyrdom is the luckiest fate that can befall some people. Louis XVI did not die in his bed, consequently history is very gentle with him; she is charitable toward his failings, and she finds in him high virtues which are not usually considered to be virtues when they are lodged in kings. She makes him out to be a person with a meek and modest spirit, the heart of a female saint, and a wrong head. None of these qualities are kingly but the last. Taken together they make a character which would have fared harshly at the hands of history if its owner had had the ill luck to miss martyrdom. With the best intentions to do the right thing, he always managed to do the wrong one. Moreover, nothing could get the female saint out of him. He knew, well enough, that in national emergencies he must not consider how he ought to act, as a man, but how he ought to act as a king; so he honestly tried to sink the man and be the king—but it was a failure, he only succeeded in being the female saint. He was not instant in season, but out of season. He could not be persuaded to do a thing while it could do any good—he was iron, he was adamant in his stubbornness then—but as soon as the thing had reached a point where it would be positively harmful to do it, do it he would, and nothing could stop him. He did not do it because it would be harmful, but because he hoped it was not yet too late to achieve by it the good which it would have done if applied earlier. His comprehension was always a train or two behindhand. If a national toe required amputating, he could not see that it needed anything more than poulticing; when others saw that the mortification had reached the knee, he first perceived that the toe needed cutting off—so he cut it off; and he severed the leg at the knee when others saw that the disease had reached the thigh. He was good, and honest, and well meaning, in the matter of chasing national diseases, but he never could overtake one. As a private man, he would have been lovable; but viewed as a king, he was strictly contemptible.

His was a most unroyal career, but the most pitiable spectacle in it was his sentimental treachery to his Swiss guard on that memorable 10th of August, when he allowed those heroes to be massacred in his cause, and forbade them to shed the “sacred French blood” purporting to be flowing in the veins of the red-capped mob of miscreants that was raging around the palace. He meant to be kingly, but he was only the female saint once more. Some of his biographers think that upon this occasion the spirit of Saint Louis had descended upon him. It must have found pretty cramped quarters. If Napoleon the First had stood in the shoes of Louis XVI that day, instead of being merely a casual and unknown looker-on, there would be no Lion of Lucerne, now, but there would be a well-stocked Communist graveyard in Paris which would answer just as well to remember the 10th of August by.

Martyrdom made a saint of Mary Queen of Scots three hundred years ago, and she has hardly lost all of her saintship yet. Martyrdom made a saint of the trivial and foolish Marie Antoinette, and her biographers still keep her fragrant with the odor of sanctity to this day, while unconsciously proving upon almost every page they write that the only calamitous instinct which her husband lacked, she supplied—the instinct to root out and get rid of an honest, able, and loyal official, wherever she found him. The hideous but beneficent French Revolution would have been deferred, or would have fallen short of completeness, or even might not have happened at all, if Marie Antoinette had made the unwise mistake of not being born. The world owes a great deal to the French Revolution, and consequently to its two chief promoters, Louis the Poor in Spirit and his queen.

We did not buy any wooden images of the Lion, nor any ivory or ebony or marble or chalk or sugar or chocolate ones, or even any photographic slanders of him. The truth is, these copies were so common, so universal, in the shops and everywhere, that they presently became as intolerable to the wearied eye as the latest popular melody usually becomes to the harassed ear. In Lucerne, too, the wood carvings of other sorts, which had been so pleasant to look upon when one saw them occasionally at home, soon began to fatigue us. We grew very tired of seeing wooden quails and chickens picking and strutting around clock-faces, and still more tired of seeing wooden images of the alleged chamois skipping about wooden rocks, or lying upon them in family groups, or peering alertly up from behind them. The first day, I would have bought a hundred and fifty of these clocks if I had the money—and I did buy three—but on the third day the disease had run its course, I had convalesced, and was in the market once more—trying to sell. However, I had no luck; which was just as well, for the things will be pretty enough, no doubt, when I get them home.

For years my pet aversion had been the cuckoo clock; now here I was, at last, right in the creature’s home; so wherever I went that distressing “HOO’hoo! HOO’hoo! HOO’hoo!” was always in my ears. For a nervous man, this was a fine state of things. Some sounds are hatefuler than others, but no sound is quite so inane, and silly, and aggravating as the “HOO’hoo” of a cuckoo clock, I think. I bought one, and am carrying it home to a certain person; for I have always said that if the opportunity ever happened, I would do that man an ill turn.

What I meant, was, that I would break one of his legs, or something of that sort; but in Lucerne I instantly saw that I could impair his mind. That would be more lasting, and more satisfactory every way. So I bought the cuckoo clock; and if I ever get home with it, he is “my meat,” as they say in the mines. I thought of another candidate—a book-reviewer whom I could name if I wanted to—but after thinking it over, I didn’t buy him a clock. I couldn’t injure his mind.

We visited the two long, covered wooden bridges which span the green and brilliant Reuss just below where it goes plunging and hurrahing out of the lake. These rambling, sway-backed tunnels are very attractive things, with their alcoved outlooks upon the lovely and inspiriting water. They contain two or three hundred queer old pictures, by old Swiss masters—old boss sign-painters, who flourished before the decadence of art.

The lake is alive with fishes, plainly visible to the eye, for the water is very clear. The parapets in front of the hotels were usually fringed with fishers of all ages. One day I thought I would stop and see a fish caught. The result brought back to my mind, very forcibly, a circumstance which I had not thought of before for twelve years. This one:


When my odd friend Riley and I were newspaper correspondents in Washington, in the winter of ‘67, we were coming down Pennsylvania Avenue one night, near midnight, in a driving storm of snow, when the flash of a street-lamp fell upon a man who was eagerly tearing along in the opposite direction. “This is lucky! You are Mr. Riley, ain’t you?”

Riley was the most self-possessed and solemnly deliberate person in the republic. He stopped, looked his man over from head to foot, and finally said:

“I am Mr. Riley. Did you happen to be looking for me?”

“That’s just what I was doing,” said the man, joyously, “and it’s the biggest luck in the world that I’ve found you. My name is Lykins. I’m one of the teachers of the high school—San Francisco. As soon as I heard the San Francisco postmastership was vacant, I made up my mind to get it—and here I am.”

“Yes,” said Riley, slowly, “as you have remarked ... Mr. Lykins ... here you are. And have you got it?”

“Well, not exactly got it, but the next thing to it. I’ve brought a petition, signed by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and all the teachers, and by more than two hundred other people. Now I want you, if you’ll be so good, to go around with me to the Pacific delegation, for I want to rush this thing through and get along home.”

“If the matter is so pressing, you will prefer that we visit the delegation tonight,” said Riley, in a voice which had nothing mocking in it—to an unaccustomed ear.

“Oh, tonight, by all means! I haven’t got any time to fool around. I want their promise before I go to bed—I ain’t the talking kind, I’m the doing kind!”

“Yes ... you’ve come to the right place for that. When did you arrive?”

“Just an hour ago.”

“When are you intending to leave?”

“For New York tomorrow evening—for San Francisco next morning.”

“Just so.... What are you going to do tomorrow?”

“Do! Why, I’ve got to go to the President with the petition and the delegation, and get the appointment, haven’t I?”

“Yes ... very true ... that is correct. And then what?”

“Executive session of the Senate at 2 P.M.—got to get the appointment confirmed—I reckon you’ll grant that?”

“Yes ... yes,” said Riley, meditatively, “you are right again. Then you take the train for New York in the evening, and the steamer for San Francisco next morning?”

“That’s it—that’s the way I map it out!”

Riley considered a while, and then said:

“You couldn’t stay ... a day ... well, say two days longer?”

“Bless your soul, no! It’s not my style. I ain’t a man to go fooling around—I’m a man that does things, I tell you.”

The storm was raging, the thick snow blowing in gusts. Riley stood silent, apparently deep in a reverie, during a minute or more, then he looked up and said:

“Have you ever heard about that man who put up at Gadsby’s, once? ... But I see you haven’t.”

He backed Mr. Lykins against an iron fence, buttonholed him, fastened him with his eye, like the Ancient Mariner, and proceeded to unfold his narrative as placidly and peacefully as if we were all stretched comfortably in a blossomy summer meadow instead of being persecuted by a wintry midnight tempest:

“I will tell you about that man. It was in Jackson’s time. Gadsby’s was the principal hotel, then. Well, this man arrived from Tennessee about nine o’clock, one morning, with a black coachman and a splendid four-horse carriage and an elegant dog, which he was evidently fond of and proud of; he drove up before Gadsby’s, and the clerk and the landlord and everybody rushed out to take charge of him, but he said, ‘Never mind,’ and jumped out and told the coachman to wait—said he hadn’t time to take anything to eat, he only had a little claim against the government to collect, would run across the way, to the Treasury, and fetch the money, and then get right along back to Tennessee, for he was in considerable of a hurry.

“Well, about eleven o’clock that night he came back and ordered a bed and told them to put the horses up—said he would collect the claim in the morning. This was in January, you understand—January, 1834—the 3d of January—Wednesday.

“Well, on the 5th of February, he sold the fine carriage, and bought a cheap second-hand one—said it would answer just as well to take the money home in, and he didn’t care for style.

“On the 11th of August he sold a pair of the fine horses—said he’d often thought a pair was better than four, to go over the rough mountain roads with where a body had to be careful about his driving—and there wasn’t so much of his claim but he could lug the money home with a pair easy enough.

“On the 13th of December he sold another horse—said two warn’t necessary to drag that old light vehicle with—in fact, one could snatch it along faster than was absolutely necessary, now that it was good solid winter weather and the roads in splendid condition.

“On the 17th of February, 1835, he sold the old carriage and bought a cheap second-hand buggy—said a buggy was just the trick to skim along mushy, slushy early spring roads with, and he had always wanted to try a buggy on those mountain roads, anyway.

“On the 1st August he sold the buggy and bought the remains of an old sulky—said he just wanted to see those green Tennesseans stare and gawk when they saw him come a-ripping along in a sulky—didn’t believe they’d ever heard of a sulky in their lives.

“Well, on the 29th of August he sold his colored coachman—said he didn’t need a coachman for a sulky—wouldn’t be room enough for two in it anyway—and, besides, it wasn’t every day that Providence sent a man a fool who was willing to pay nine hundred dollars for such a third-rate negro as that—been wanting to get rid of the creature for years, but didn’t like to throw him away.

“Eighteen months later—that is to say, on the 15th of February, 1837—he sold the sulky and bought a saddle—said horseback-riding was what the doctor had always recommended him to take, and dog’d if he wanted to risk his neck going over those mountain roads on wheels in the dead of winter, not if he knew himself.

“On the 9th of April he sold the saddle—said he wasn’t going to risk his life with any perishable saddle-girth that ever was made, over a rainy, miry April road, while he could ride bareback and know and feel he was safe—always had despised to ride on a saddle, anyway.

“On the 24th of April he sold his horse—said ‘I’m just fifty-seven today, hale and hearty—it would be a pretty howdy-do for me to be wasting such a trip as that and such weather as this, on a horse, when there ain’t anything in the world so splendid as a tramp on foot through the fresh spring woods and over the cheery mountains, to a man that is a man—and I can make my dog carry my claim in a little bundle, anyway, when it’s collected. So tomorrow I’ll be up bright and early, make my little old collection, and mosey off to Tennessee, on my own hind legs, with a rousing good-by to Gadsby’s.‘

“On the 22d of June he sold his dog—said ‘Dern a dog, anyway, where you’re just starting off on a rattling bully pleasure tramp through the summer woods and hills—perfect nuisance—chases the squirrels, barks at everything, goes a-capering and splattering around in the fords—man can’t get any chance to reflect and enjoy nature—and I’d a blamed sight ruther carry the claim myself, it’s a mighty sight safer; a dog’s mighty uncertain in a financial way—always noticed it—well, good-by, boys—last call—I’m off for Tennessee with a good leg and a gay heart, early in the morning.’”

There was a pause and a silence—except the noise of the wind and the pelting snow. Mr. Lykins said, impatiently:


Riley said:

“Well,—that was thirty years ago.”

“Very well, very well—what of it?”

“I’m great friends with that old patriarch. He comes every evening to tell me good-by. I saw him an hour ago—he’s off for Tennessee early tomorrow morning—as usual; said he calculated to get his claim through and be off before night-owls like me have turned out of bed. The tears were in his eyes, he was so glad he was going to see his old Tennessee and his friends once more.”

Another silent pause. The stranger broke it:

“Is that all?”

“That is all.”

“Well, for the time of night, and the kind of night, it seems to me the story was full long enough. But what’s it all for?”

“Oh, nothing in particular.”

“Well, where’s the point of it?”

“Oh, there isn’t any particular point to it. Only, if you are not in too much of a hurry to rush off to San Francisco with that post-office appointment, Mr. Lykins, I’d advise you to ‘Put Up At Gadsby’s’ for a spell, and take it easy. Good-by. God bless you!”

So saying, Riley blandly turned on his heel and left the astonished school-teacher standing there, a musing and motionless snow image shining in the broad glow of the street-lamp.

He never got that post-office.

To go back to Lucerne and its fishers, I concluded, after about nine hours’ waiting, that the man who proposes to tarry till he sees something hook one of those well-fed and experienced fishes will find it wisdom to “put up at Gadsby’s” and take it easy. It is likely that a fish has not been caught on that lake pier for forty years; but no matter, the patient fisher watches his cork there all the day long, just the same, and seems to enjoy it. One may see the fisher-loafers just as thick and contented and happy and patient all along the Seine at Paris, but tradition says that the only thing ever caught there in modern times is a thing they don’t fish for at all—the recent dog and the translated cat.

CHAPTER XXVII. [I Spare an Awful Bore]

Close by the Lion of Lucerne is what they call the “Glacier Garden”—and it is the only one in the world. It is on high ground. Four or five years ago, some workmen who were digging foundations for a house came upon this interesting relic of a long-departed age. Scientific men perceived in it a confirmation of their theories concerning the glacial period; so through their persuasions the little tract of ground was bought and permanently protected against being built upon. The soil was removed, and there lay the rasped and guttered track which the ancient glacier had made as it moved along upon its slow and tedious journey. This track was perforated by huge pot-shaped holes in the bed-rock, formed by the furious washing-around in them of boulders by the turbulent torrent which flows beneath all glaciers. These huge round boulders still remain in the holes; they and the walls of the holes are worn smooth by the long-continued chafing which they gave each other in those old days.

It took a mighty force to churn these big lumps of stone around in that vigorous way. The neighboring country had a very different shape, at that time—the valleys have risen up and become hills, since, and the hills have become valleys. The boulders discovered in the pots had traveled a great distance, for there is no rock like them nearer than the distant Rhone Glacier.

For some days we were content to enjoy looking at the blue lake Lucerne and at the piled-up masses of snow-mountains that border it all around—an enticing spectacle, this last, for there is a strange and fascinating beauty and charm about a majestic snow-peak with the sun blazing upon it or the moonlight softly enriching it—but finally we concluded to try a bit of excursioning around on a steamboat, and a dash on foot at the Rigi. Very well, we had a delightful trip to Fluelen, on a breezy, sunny day. Everybody sat on the upper deck, on benches, under an awning; everybody talked, laughed, and exclaimed at the wonderful scenery; in truth, a trip on that lake is almost the perfection of pleasuring.

The mountains were a never-ceasing marvel. Sometimes they rose straight up out of the lake, and towered aloft and overshadowed our pygmy steamer with their prodigious bulk in the most impressive way. Not snow-clad mountains, these, yet they climbed high enough toward the sky to meet the clouds and veil their foreheads in them. They were not barren and repulsive, but clothed in green, and restful and pleasant to the eye. And they were so almost straight-up-and-down, sometimes, that one could not imagine a man being able to keep his footing upon such a surface, yet there are paths, and the Swiss people go up and down them every day.

Sometimes one of these monster precipices had the slight inclination of the huge ship-houses in dockyards—then high aloft, toward the sky, it took a little stronger inclination, like that of a mansard roof—and perched on this dizzy mansard one’s eye detected little things like martin boxes, and presently perceived that these were the dwellings of peasants—an airy place for a home, truly. And suppose a peasant should walk in his sleep, or his child should fall out of the front yard?—the friends would have a tedious long journey down out of those cloud-heights before they found the remains. And yet those far-away homes looked ever so seductive, they were so remote from the troubled world, they dozed in such an atmosphere of peace and dreams—surely no one who has learned to live up there would ever want to live on a meaner level.

We swept through the prettiest little curving arms of the lake, among these colossal green walls, enjoying new delights, always, as the stately panorama unfolded itself before us and rerolled and hid itself behind us; and now and then we had the thrilling surprise of bursting suddenly upon a tremendous white mass like the distant and dominating Jungfrau, or some kindred giant, looming head and shoulders above a tumbled waste of lesser Alps.

Once, while I was hungrily taking in one of these surprises, and doing my best to get all I possibly could of it while it should last, I was interrupted by a young and care-free voice:

“You’re an American, I think—so’m I.”

He was about eighteen, or possibly nineteen; slender and of medium height; open, frank, happy face; a restless but independent eye; a snub nose, which had the air of drawing back with a decent reserve from the silky new-born mustache below it until it should be introduced; a loosely hung jaw, calculated to work easily in the sockets. He wore a low-crowned, narrow-brimmed straw hat, with a broad blue ribbon around it which had a white anchor embroidered on it in front; nobby short-tailed coat, pantaloons, vest, all trim and neat and up with the fashion; red-striped stockings, very low-quarter patent-leather shoes, tied with black ribbon; blue ribbon around his neck, wide-open collar; tiny diamond studs; wrinkleless kids; projecting cuffs, fastened with large oxidized silver sleeve-buttons, bearing the device of a dog’s face—English pug. He carried a slim cane, surmounted with an English pug’s head with red glass eyes. Under his arm he carried a German grammar—Otto’s. His hair was short, straight, and smooth, and presently when he turned his head a moment, I saw that it was nicely parted behind. He took a cigarette out of a dainty box, stuck it into a meerschaum holder which he carried in a morocco case, and reached for my cigar. While he was lighting, I said:

“Yes—I am an American."

“I knew it—I can always tell them. What ship did you come over in?”


“We came in the Batavia—Cunard, you know. What kind of passage did you have?”

“Tolerably rough.”

“So did we. Captain said he’d hardly ever seen it rougher. Where are you from?”

“New England.”

“So’m I. I’m from New Bloomfield. Anybody with you?”

“Yes—a friend.”

“Our whole family’s along. It’s awful slow, going around alone—don’t you think so?”

“Rather slow.”

“Ever been over here before?”


“I haven’t. My first trip. But we’ve been all around—Paris and everywhere. I’m to enter Harvard next year. Studying German all the time, now. Can’t enter till I know German. I know considerable French—I get along pretty well in Paris, or anywhere where they speak French. What hotel are you stopping at?”


“No! is that so? I never see you in the reception-room. I go to the reception-room a good deal of the time, because there’s so many Americans there. I make lots of acquaintances. I know an American as soon as I see him—and so I speak to him and make his acquaintance. I like to be always making acquaintances—don’t you?”

“Lord, yes!”

“You see it breaks up a trip like this, first rate. I never got bored on a trip like this, if I can make acquaintances and have somebody to talk to. But I think a trip like this would be an awful bore, if a body couldn’t find anybody to get acquainted with and talk to on a trip like this. I’m fond of talking, ain’t you?


“Have you felt bored, on this trip?”

“Not all the time, part of it.”

“That’s it!—you see you ought to go around and get acquainted, and talk. That’s my way. That’s the way I always do—I just go ’round, ’round, ’round and talk, talk, talk—I never get bored. You been up the Rigi yet?”



“I think so.”

“What hotel you going to stop at?”

“I don’t know. Is there more than one?”

“Three. You stop at the Schreiber—you’ll find it full of Americans. What ship did you say you came over in?”

“City of Antwerp.”

“German, I guess. You going to Geneva?”


“What hotel you going to stop at?”

“Hôtel de l’Ecu de Génève.”

“Don’t you do it! No Americans there! You stop at one of those big hotels over the bridge—they’re packed full of Americans.”

“But I want to practice my Arabic.”

“Good gracious, do you speak Arabic?”

“Yes—well enough to get along.”

“Why, hang it, you won’t get along in Geneva—they don’t speak Arabic, they speak French. What hotel are you stopping at here?”

“Hotel Pension-Beaurivage.”

“Sho, you ought to stop at the Schweitzerhof. Didn’t you know the Schweitzerhof was the best hotel in Switzerland?— look at your Baedeker.”

“Yes, I know—but I had an idea there warn’t any Americans there.”

“No Americans! Why, bless your soul, it’s just alive with them! I’m in the great reception-room most all the time. I make lots of acquaintances there. Not as many as I did at first, because now only the new ones stop in there—the others go right along through. Where are you from?”


“Is that so? I’m from New England—New Bloomfield’s my town when I’m at home. I’m having a mighty good time today, ain’t you?”


“That’s what I call it. I like this knocking around, loose and easy, and making acquaintances and talking. I know an American, soon as I see him; so I go and speak to him and make his acquaintance. I ain’t ever bored, on a trip like this, if I can make new acquaintances and talk. I’m awful fond of talking when I can get hold of the right kind of a person, ain’t you?”

“I prefer it to any other dissipation.”

“That’s my notion, too. Now some people like to take a book and sit down and read, and read, and read, or moon around yawping at the lake or these mountains and things, but that ain’t my way; no, sir, if they like it, let ’em do it, I don’t object; but as for me, talking’s what I like. You been up the Rigi?”


“What hotel did you stop at?”


“That’s the place!—I stopped there too, full of Americans, wasn’t it? It always is—always is. That’s what they say. Everybody says that. What ship did you come over in?”

“Ville De Paris.”

“French, I reckon. What kind of a passage did ... excuse me a minute, there’s some Americans I haven’t seen before.”

And away he went. He went uninjured, too—I had the murderous impulse to harpoon him in the back with my alpenstock, but as I raised the weapon the disposition left me; I found I hadn’t the heart to kill him, he was such a joyous, innocent, good-natured numbskull.

Half an hour later I was sitting on a bench inspecting, with strong interest, a noble monolith which we were skimming by—a monolith not shaped by man, but by Nature’s free great hand—a massy pyramidal rock eighty feet high, devised by Nature ten million years ago against the day when a man worthy of it should need it for his monument. The time came at last, and now this grand remembrancer bears Schiller’s name in huge letters upon its face. Curiously enough, this rock was not degraded or defiled in any way. It is said that two years ago a stranger let himself down from the top of it with ropes and pulleys, and painted all over it, in blue letters bigger than those in Schiller’s name, these words:

“Try Sozodont;"
“Buy Sun Stove Polish;"
“Helmbold’s Buchu;"
“Try Benzaline for the Blood.”

He was captured and it turned out that he was an American. Upon his trial the judge said to him:

“You are from a land where any insolent that wants to is privileged to profane and insult Nature, and, through her, Nature’s God, if by so doing he can put a sordid penny in his pocket. But here the case is different. Because you are a foreigner and ignorant, I will make your sentence light; if you were a native I would deal strenuously with you. Hear and obey: —You will immediately remove every trace of your offensive work from the Schiller monument; you pay a fine of ten thousand francs; you will suffer two years’ imprisonment at hard labor; you will then be horsewhipped, tarred and feathered, deprived of your ears, ridden on a rail to the confines of the canton, and banished forever. The severest penalties are omitted in your case—not as a grace to you, but to that great republic which had the misfortune to give you birth."

The steamer’s benches were ranged back to back across the deck. My back hair was mingling innocently with the back hair of a couple of ladies. Presently they were addressed by some one and I overheard this conversation:

“You are Americans, I think? So’m I.”

“Yes—we are Americans.”

“I knew it—I can always tell them. What ship did you come over in?”

“City of Chester.”

“Oh, yes—Inman line. We came in the Batavia—Cunard you know. What kind of a passage did you have?”

“Pretty fair.”

“That was luck. We had it awful rough. Captain said he’d hardly seen it rougher. Where are you from?”

“New Jersey.”

“So’m I. No—I didn’t mean that; I’m from New England. New Bloomfield’s my place. These your children?—belong to both of you?”

“Only to one of us; they are mine; my friend is not married.”

“Single, I reckon? So’m I. Are you two ladies traveling alone?”

“No—my husband is with us.”

“Our whole family’s along. It’s awful slow, going around alone—don’t you think so?”

“I suppose it must be."

“Hi, there’s Mount Pilatus coming in sight again. Named after Pontius Pilate, you know, that shot the apple off of William Tell’s head. Guide-book tells all about it, they say. I didn’t read it—an American told me. I don’t read when I’m knocking around like this, having a good time. Did you ever see the chapel where William Tell used to preach?”

“I did not know he ever preached there.”

“Oh, yes, he did. That American told me so. He don’t ever shut up his guide-book. He knows more about this lake than the fishes in it. Besides, they call it ‘Tell’s Chapel’—you know that yourself. You ever been over here before?”


“I haven’t. It’s my first trip. But we’ve been all around—Paris and everywhere. I’m to enter Harvard next year. Studying German all the time now. Can’t enter till I know German. This book’s Otto’s grammar. It’s a mighty good book to get the ich habe gehabt haben’s out of. But I don’t really study when I’m knocking around this way. If the notion takes me, I just run over my little old ich habe gehabt, du hast gehabt, er hat gehabt, wir haben gehabt, ihr haben gehabt, sie haben gehabt—kind of ‘Now-I-lay-me-down-to-sleep’ fashion, you know, and after that, maybe I don’t buckle to it for three days. It’s awful undermining to the intellect, German is; you want to take it in small doses, or first you know your brains all run together, and you feel them sloshing around in your head same as so much drawn butter. But French is different; French ain’t anything. I ain’t any more afraid of French than a tramp’s afraid of pie; I can rattle off my little j’ai, tu as, il a, and the rest of it, just as easy as a-b-c. I get along pretty well in Paris, or anywhere where they speak French. What hotel are you stopping at?”

“The Schweitzerhof.”

“No! is that so? I never see you in the big reception-room. I go in there a good deal of the time, because there’s so many Americans there. I make lots of acquaintances. You been up the Rigi yet?”



“We think of it.”

“What hotel you going to stop at?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, then you stop at the Schreiber—it’s full of Americans. What ship did you come over in?”

“City of Chester.”

“Oh, yes, I remember I asked you that before. But I always ask everybody what ship they came over in, and so sometimes I forget and ask again. You going to Geneva?”


“What hotel you going to stop at?”

“We expect to stop in a pension.”

“I don’t hardly believe you’ll like that; there’s very few Americans in the pensions. What hotel are you stopping at here?”

“The Schweitzerhof.”

“Oh, yes. I asked you that before, too. But I always ask everybody what hotel they’re stopping at, and so I’ve got my head all mixed up with hotels. But it makes talk, and I love to talk. It refreshes me up so—don’t it you—on a trip like this?”


“Well, it does me, too. As long as I’m talking I never feel bored—ain’t that the way with you?”

“Yes—generally. But there are exception to the rule.”

“Oh, of course. I don’t care to talk to everybody, myself. If a person starts in to jabber-jabber-jabber about scenery, and history, and pictures, and all sorts of tiresome things, I get the fan-tods mighty soon. I say ‘Well, I must be going now—hope I’ll see you again’—and then I take a walk. Where you from?”

“New Jersey.”

“Why, bother it all, I asked you that before, too. Have you seen the Lion of Lucerne?”

“Not yet.”

“Nor I, either. But the man who told me about Mount Pilatus says it’s one of the things to see. It’s twenty-eight feet long. It don’t seem reasonable, but he said so, anyway. He saw it yesterday; said it was dying, then, so I reckon it’s dead by this time. But that ain’t any matter, of course they’ll stuff it. Did you say the children are yours—or hers?”


“Oh, so you did. Are you going up the ... no, I asked you that. What ship ... no, I asked you that, too. What hotel are you ... no, you told me that. Let me see ... um .... Oh, what kind of voy ... no, we’ve been over that ground, too. Um ... um ... well, I believe that is all. bonjour—I am very glad to have made your acquaintance, ladies. Guten tag."

CHAPTER XXVIII. [The Jodel and Its Native Wilds]

The Rigi-Kulm is an imposing Alpine mass, six thousand feet high, which stands by itself, and commands a mighty prospect of blue lakes, green valleys, and snowy mountains—a compact and magnificent picture three hundred miles in circumference. The ascent is made by rail, or horseback, or on foot, as one may prefer. I and my agent panoplied ourselves in walking-costume, one bright morning, and started down the lake on the steamboat; we got ashore at the village of Waeggis; three-quarters of an hour distant from Lucerne. This village is at the foot of the mountain.

We were soon tramping leisurely up the leafy mule-path, and then the talk began to flow, as usual. It was twelve o’clock noon, and a breezy, cloudless day; the ascent was gradual, and the glimpses, from under the curtaining boughs, of blue water, and tiny sailboats, and beetling cliffs, were as charming as glimpses of dreamland. All the circumstances were perfect—and the anticipations, too, for we should soon be enjoying, for the first time, that wonderful spectacle, an Alpine sunrise—the object of our journey. There was (apparently) no real need for hurry, for the guide-book made the walking-distance from Waeggis to the summit only three hours and a quarter. I say “apparently,” because the guide-book had already fooled us once—about the distance from Allerheiligen to Oppenau—and for aught I knew it might be getting ready to fool us again. We were only certain as to the altitudes—we calculated to find out for ourselves how many hours it is from the bottom to the top. The summit is six thousand feet above the sea, but only forty-five hundred feet above the lake. When we had walked half an hour, we were fairly into the swing and humor of the undertaking, so we cleared for action; that is to say, we got a boy whom we met to carry our alpenstocks and satchels and overcoats and things for us; that left us free for business. I suppose we must have stopped oftener to stretch out on the grass in the shade and take a bit of a smoke than this boy was used to, for presently he asked if it had been our idea to hire him by the job, or by the year? We told him he could move along if he was in a hurry. He said he wasn’t in such a very particular hurry, but he wanted to get to the top while he was young.

We told him to clear out, then, and leave the things at the uppermost hotel and say we should be along presently. He said he would secure us a hotel if he could, but if they were all full he would ask them to build another one and hurry up and get the paint and plaster dry against we arrived. Still gently chaffing us, he pushed ahead, up the trail, and soon disappeared. By six o’clock we were pretty high up in the air, and the view of lake and mountains had greatly grown in breadth and interest. We halted awhile at a little public house, where we had bread and cheese and a quart or two of fresh milk, out on the porch, with the big panorama all before us—and then moved on again.

Ten minutes afterward we met a hot, red-faced man plunging down the mountain, making mighty strides, swinging his alpenstock ahead of him, and taking a grip on the ground with its iron point to support these big strides. He stopped, fanned himself with his hat, swabbed the perspiration from his face and neck with a red handkerchief, panted a moment or two, and asked how far to Waeggis. I said three hours. He looked surprised, and said:

“Why, it seems as if I could toss a biscuit into the lake from here, it’s so close by. Is that an inn, there?”

I said it was.

“Well,” said he, “I can’t stand another three hours, I’ve had enough today; I’ll take a bed there.”

I asked:

“Are we nearly to the top?”

“Nearly to the top? Why, bless your soul, you haven’t really started, yet.”

I said we would put up at the inn, too. So we turned back and ordered a hot supper, and had quite a jolly evening of it with this Englishman.

The German landlady gave us neat rooms and nice beds, and when I and my agent turned in, it was with the resolution to be up early and make the utmost of our first Alpine sunrise. But of course we were dead tired, and slept like policemen; so when we awoke in the morning and ran to the window it was already too late, because it was half past eleven. It was a sharp disappointment. However, we ordered breakfast and told the landlady to call the Englishman, but she said he was already up and off at daybreak—and swearing like mad about something or other. We could not find out what the matter was. He had asked the landlady the altitude of her place above the level of the lake, and she told him fourteen hundred and ninety-five feet. That was all that was said; then he lost his temper. He said that between ———fools and guide-books, a man could acquire ignorance enough in twenty-four hours in a country like this to last him a year. Harris believed our boy had been loading him up with misinformation; and this was probably the case, for his epithet described that boy to a dot.

We got under way about the turn of noon, and pulled out for the summit again, with a fresh and vigorous step. When we had gone about two hundred yards, and stopped to rest, I glanced to the left while I was lighting my pipe, and in the distance detected a long worm of black smoke crawling lazily up the steep mountain. Of course that was the locomotive. We propped ourselves on our elbows at once, to gaze, for we had never seen a mountain railway yet. Presently we could make out the train. It seemed incredible that that thing should creep straight up a sharp slant like the roof of a house—but there it was, and it was doing that very miracle.

In the course of a couple hours we reached a fine breezy altitude where the little shepherd huts had big stones all over their roofs to hold them down to the earth when the great storms rage. The country was wild and rocky about here, but there were plenty of trees, plenty of moss, and grass.

Away off on the opposite shore of the lake we could see some villages, and now for the first time we could observe the real difference between their proportions and those of the giant mountains at whose feet they slept. When one is in one of those villages it seems spacious, and its houses seem high and not out of proportion to the mountain that overhangs them—but from our altitude, what a change! The mountains were bigger and grander than ever, as they stood there thinking their solemn thoughts with their heads in the drifting clouds, but the villages at their feet—when the painstaking eye could trace them up and find them—were so reduced, almost invisible, and lay so flat against the ground, that the exactest simile I can devise is to compare them to ant-deposits of granulated dirt overshadowed by the huge bulk of a cathedral. The steamboats skimming along under the stupendous precipices were diminished by distance to the daintiest little toys, the sailboats and rowboats to shallops proper for fairies that keep house in the cups of lilies and ride to court on the backs of bumblebees.

Presently we came upon half a dozen sheep nibbling grass in the spray of a stream of clear water that sprang from a rock wall a hundred feet high, and all at once our ears were startled with a melodious “Lul ... l ... l l l llul-lul-LAhee-o-o-o!” pealing joyously from a near but invisible source, and recognized that we were hearing for the first time the famous Alpine Jodel in its own native wilds. And we recognized, also, that it was that sort of quaint commingling of baritone and falsetto which at home we call “Tyrolese warbling."

The jodeling (pronounced yOdling—emphasis on the O) continued, and was very pleasant and inspiriting to hear. Now the jodeler appeared—a shepherd boy of sixteen—and in our gladness and gratitude we gave him a franc to jodel some more. So he jodeled and we listened. We moved on, presently, and he generously jodeled us out of sight. After about fifteen minutes we came across another shepherd boy who was jodeling, and gave him half a franc to keep it up. He also jodeled us out of sight. After that, we found a jodeler every ten minutes; we gave the first one eight cents, the second one six cents, the third one four, the fourth one a penny, contributed nothing to Nos. 5, 6, and 7, and during the remainder of the day hired the rest of the jodelers, at a franc apiece, not to jodel any more. There is somewhat too much of the jodeling in the Alps.

About the middle of the afternoon we passed through a prodigious natural gateway called the Felsenthor, formed by two enormous upright rocks, with a third lying across the top. There was a very attractive little hotel close by, but our energies were not conquered yet, so we went on.

Three hours afterward we came to the railway-track. It was planted straight up the mountain with the slant of a ladder that leans against a house, and it seemed to us that man would need good nerves who proposed to travel up it or down it either.

During the latter part of the afternoon we cooled our roasting interiors with ice-cold water from clear streams, the only really satisfying water we had tasted since we left home, for at the hotels on the continent they merely give you a tumbler of ice to soak your water in, and that only modifies its hotness, doesn’t make it cold. Water can only be made cold enough for summer comfort by being prepared in a refrigerator or a closed ice-pitcher. Europeans say ice-water impairs digestion. How do they know?—they never drink any.

At ten minutes past six we reached the Kaltbad station, where there is a spacious hotel with great verandas which command a majestic expanse of lake and mountain scenery. We were pretty well fagged out, now, but as we did not wish to miss the Alpine sunrise, we got through our dinner as quickly as possible and hurried off to bed. It was unspeakably comfortable to stretch our weary limbs between the cool, damp sheets. And how we did sleep!—for there is no opiate like Alpine pedestrianism.

In the morning we both awoke and leaped out of bed at the same instant and ran and stripped aside the window-curtains; but we suffered a bitter disappointment again: it was already half past three in the afternoon.

We dressed sullenly and in ill spirits, each accusing the other of oversleeping. Harris said if we had brought the courier along, as we ought to have done, we should not have missed these sunrises. I said he knew very well that one of us would have to sit up and wake the courier; and I added that we were having trouble enough to take care of ourselves, on this climb, without having to take care of a courier besides.

During breakfast our spirits came up a little, since we found by this guide-book that in the hotels on the summit the tourist is not left to trust to luck for his sunrise, but is roused betimes by a man who goes through the halls with a great Alpine horn, blowing blasts that would raise the dead. And there was another consoling thing: the guide-book said that up there on the summit the guests did not wait to dress much, but seized a red bed blanket and sailed out arrayed like an Indian. This was good; this would be romantic; two hundred and fifty people grouped on the windy summit, with their hair flying and their red blankets flapping, in the solemn presence of the coming sun, would be a striking and memorable spectacle. So it was good luck, not ill luck, that we had missed those other sunrises.

We were informed by the guide-book that we were now 3,228 feet above the level of the lake—therefore full two-thirds of our journey had been accomplished. We got away at a quarter past four P.M.; a hundred yards above the hotel the railway divided; one track went straight up the steep hill, the other one turned square off to the right, with a very slight grade. We took the latter, and followed it more than a mile, turned a rocky corner, and came in sight of a handsome new hotel. If we had gone on, we should have arrived at the summit, but Harris preferred to ask a lot of questions—as usual, of a man who didn’t know anything—and he told us to go back and follow the other route. We did so. We could ill afford this loss of time.

We climbed and climbed; and we kept on climbing; we reached about forty summits, but there was always another one just ahead. It came on to rain, and it rained in dead earnest. We were soaked through and it was bitter cold. Next a smoky fog of clouds covered the whole region densely, and we took to the railway-ties to keep from getting lost. Sometimes we slopped along in a narrow path on the left-hand side of the track, but by and by when the fog blew aside a little and we saw that we were treading the rampart of a precipice and that our left elbows were projecting over a perfectly boundless and bottomless vacancy, we gasped, and jumped for the ties again.

The night shut down, dark and drizzly and cold. About eight in the evening the fog lifted and showed us a well-worn path which led up a very steep rise to the left. We took it, and as soon as we had got far enough from the railway to render the finding it again an impossibility, the fog shut down on us once more.

We were in a bleak, unsheltered place, now, and had to trudge right along, in order to keep warm, though we rather expected to go over a precipice, sooner or later. About nine o’clock we made an important discovery—that we were not in any path. We groped around a while on our hands and knees, but we could not find it; so we sat down in the mud and the wet scant grass to wait.

We were terrified into this by being suddenly confronted with a vast body which showed itself vaguely for an instant and in the next instant was smothered in the fog again. It was really the hotel we were after, monstrously magnified by the fog, but we took it for the face of a precipice, and decided not to try to claw up it.

We sat there an hour, with chattering teeth and quivering bodies, and quarreled over all sorts of trifles, but gave most of our attention to abusing each other for the stupidity of deserting the railway-track. We sat with our backs to the precipice, because what little wind there was came from that quarter. At some time or other the fog thinned a little; we did not know when, for we were facing the empty universe and the thinness could not show; but at last Harris happened to look around, and there stood a huge, dim, spectral hotel where the precipice had been. One could faintly discern the windows and chimneys, and a dull blur of lights. Our first emotion was deep, unutterable gratitude, our next was a foolish rage, born of the suspicion that possibly the hotel had been visible three-quarters of an hour while we sat there in those cold puddles quarreling.

Yes, it was the Rigi-Kulm hotel—the one that occupies the extreme summit, and whose remote little sparkle of lights we had often seen glinting high aloft among the stars from our balcony away down yonder in Lucerne. The crusty portier and the crusty clerks gave us the surly reception which their kind deal out in prosperous times, but by mollifying them with an extra display of obsequiousness and servility we finally got them to show us to the room which our boy had engaged for us.

We got into some dry clothing, and while our supper was preparing we loafed forsakenly through a couple of vast cavernous drawing-rooms, one of which had a stove in it. This stove was in a corner, and densely walled around with people. We could not get near the fire, so we moved at large in the artic spaces, among a multitude of people who sat silent, smileless, forlorn, and shivering—thinking what fools they were to come, perhaps. There were some Americans and some Germans, but one could see that the great majority were English.

We lounged into an apartment where there was a great crowd, to see what was going on. It was a memento-magazine. The tourists were eagerly buying all sorts and styles of paper-cutters, marked “Souvenir of the Rigi,” with handles made of the little curved horn of the ostensible chamois; there were all manner of wooden goblets and such things, similarly marked. I was going to buy a paper-cutter, but I believed I could remember the cold comfort of the Rigi-Kulm without it, so I smothered the impulse.

Supper warmed us, and we went immediately to bed—but first, as Mr. Baedeker requests all tourists to call his attention to any errors which they may find in his guide-books, I dropped him a line to inform him he missed it by just about three days. I had previously informed him of his mistake about the distance from Allerheiligen to Oppenau, and had also informed the Ordnance Depart of the German government of the same error in the imperial maps. I will add, here, that I never got any answer to those letters, or any thanks from either of those sources; and, what is still more discourteous, these corrections have not been made, either in the maps or the guide-books. But I will write again when I get time, for my letters may have miscarried.

We curled up in the clammy beds, and went to sleep without rocking. We were so sodden with fatigue that we never stirred nor turned over till the blooming blasts of the Alpine horn aroused us.

It may well be imagined that we did not lose any time. We snatched on a few odds and ends of clothing, cocooned ourselves in the proper red blankets, and plunged along the halls and out into the whistling wind bareheaded. We saw a tall wooden scaffolding on the very peak of the summit, a hundred yards away, and made for it. We rushed up the stairs to the top of this scaffolding, and stood there, above the vast outlying world, with hair flying and ruddy blankets waving and cracking in the fierce breeze.

“Fifteen minutes too late, at last!” said Harris, in a vexed voice. “The sun is clear above the horizon.”

“No matter,” I said, “it is a most magnificent spectacle, and we will see it do the rest of its rising anyway.”

In a moment we were deeply absorbed in the marvel before us, and dead to everything else. The great cloud-barred disk of the sun stood just above a limitless expanse of tossing white-caps—so to speak—a billowy chaos of massy mountain domes and peaks draped in imperishable snow, and flooded with an opaline glory of changing and dissolving splendors, while through rifts in a black cloud-bank above the sun, radiating lances of diamond dust shot to the zenith. The cloven valleys of the lower world swam in a tinted mist which veiled the ruggedness of their crags and ribs and ragged forests, and turned all the forbidding region into a soft and rich and sensuous paradise.

We could not speak. We could hardly breathe. We could only gaze in drunken ecstasy and drink in it. Presently Harris exclaimed:

“Why—nation, it’s going down!”

Perfectly true. We had missed the morning hornblow, and slept all day. This was stupefying.

Harris said:

“Look here, the sun isn’t the spectacle—it’s us—stacked up here on top of this gallows, in these idiotic blankets, and two hundred and fifty well-dressed men and women down here gawking up at us and not caring a straw whether the sun rises or sets, as long as they’ve got such a ridiculous spectacle as this to set down in their memorandum-books. They seem to be laughing their ribs loose, and there’s one girl there that appears to be going all to pieces. I never saw such a man as you before. I think you are the very last possibility in the way of an ass.”

“What have I done?” I answered, with heat.

“What have you done? You’ve got up at half past seven o’clock in the evening to see the sun rise, that’s what you’ve done.”

“And have you done any better, I’d like to know? I’ve always used to get up with the lark, till I came under the petrifying influence of your turgid intellect.”

“You used to get up with the lark—Oh, no doubt—you’ll get up with the hangman one of these days. But you ought to be ashamed to be jawing here like this, in a red blanket, on a forty-foot scaffold on top of the Alps. And no end of people down here to boot; this isn’t any place for an exhibition of temper.”

And so the customary quarrel went on. When the sun was fairly down, we slipped back to the hotel in the charitable gloaming, and went to bed again. We had encountered the horn-blower on the way, and he had tried to collect compensation, not only for announcing the sunset, which we did see, but for the sunrise, which we had totally missed; but we said no, we only took our solar rations on the “European plan”—pay for what you get. He promised to make us hear his horn in the morning, if we were alive.

CHAPTER XXIX. [Looking West for Sunrise]

He kept his word. We heard his horn and instantly got up. It was dark and cold and wretched. As I fumbled around for the matches, knocking things down with my quaking hands, I wished the sun would rise in the middle of the day, when it was warm and bright and cheerful, and one wasn’t sleepy. We proceeded to dress by the gloom of a couple sickly candles, but we could hardly button anything, our hands shook so. I thought of how many happy people there were in Europe, Asia, and America, and everywhere, who were sleeping peacefully in their beds, and did not have to get up and see the Rigi sunrise—people who did not appreciate their advantage, as like as not, but would get up in the morning wanting more boons of Providence. While thinking these thoughts I yawned, in a rather ample way, and my upper teeth got hitched on a nail over the door, and while I was mounting a chair to free myself, Harris drew the window-curtain, and said:

“Oh, this is luck! We shan’t have to go out at all—yonder are the mountains, in full view."

That was glad news, indeed. It made us cheerful right away. One could see the grand Alpine masses dimly outlined against the black firmament, and one or two faint stars blinking through rifts in the night. Fully clothed, and wrapped in blankets, and huddled ourselves up, by the window, with lighted pipes, and fell into chat, while we waited in exceeding comfort to see how an Alpine sunrise was going to look by candlelight. By and by a delicate, spiritual sort of effulgence spread itself by imperceptible degrees over the loftiest altitudes of the snowy wastes—but there the effort seemed to stop. I said, presently:

“There is a hitch about this sunrise somewhere. It doesn’t seem to go. What do you reckon is the matter with it?”

“I don’t know. It appears to hang fire somewhere. I never saw a sunrise act like that before. Can it be that the hotel is playing anything on us?”

“Of course not. The hotel merely has a property interest in the sun, it has nothing to do with the management of it. It is a precarious kind of property, too; a succession of total eclipses would probably ruin this tavern. Now what can be the matter with this sunrise?”

Harris jumped up and said:

“I’ve got it! I know what’s the matter with it! We’ve been looking at the place where the sun set last night!”

“It is perfectly true! Why couldn’t you have thought of that sooner? Now we’ve lost another one! And all through your blundering. It was exactly like you to light a pipe and sit down to wait for the sun to rise in the west.”

“It was exactly like me to find out the mistake, too. You never would have found it out. I find out all the mistakes.”

“You make them all, too, else your most valuable faculty would be wasted on you. But don’t stop to quarrel, now—maybe we are not too late yet.”

But we were. The sun was well up when we got to the exhibition-ground.

On our way up we met the crowd returning—men and women dressed in all sorts of queer costumes, and exhibiting all degrees of cold and wretchedness in their gaits and countenances. A dozen still remained on the ground when we reached there, huddled together about the scaffold with their backs to the bitter wind. They had their red guide-books open at the diagram of the view, and were painfully picking out the several mountains and trying to impress their names and positions on their memories. It was one of the saddest sights I ever saw.

Two sides of this place were guarded by railings, to keep people from being blown over the precipices. The view, looking sheer down into the broad valley, eastward, from this great elevation—almost a perpendicular mile—was very quaint and curious. Counties, towns, hilly ribs and ridges, wide stretches of green meadow, great forest tracts, winding streams, a dozen blue lakes, a block of busy steamboats—we saw all this little world in unique circumstantiality of detail—saw it just as the birds see it—and all reduced to the smallest of scales and as sharply worked out and finished as a steel engraving. The numerous toy villages, with tiny spires projecting out of them, were just as the children might have left them when done with play the day before; the forest tracts were diminished to cushions of moss; one or two big lakes were dwarfed to ponds, the smaller ones to puddles—though they did not look like puddles, but like blue teardrops which had fallen and lodged in slight depressions, conformable to their shapes, among the moss-beds and the smooth levels of dainty green farm-land; the microscopic steamboats glided along, as in a city reservoir, taking a mighty time to cover the distance between ports which seemed only a yard apart; and the isthmus which separated two lakes looked as if one might stretch out on it and lie with both elbows in the water, yet we knew invisible wagons were toiling across it and finding the distance a tedious one. This beautiful miniature world had exactly the appearance of those “relief maps” which reproduce nature precisely, with the heights and depressions and other details graduated to a reduced scale, and with the rocks, trees, lakes, etc., colored after nature.

I believed we could walk down to Waeggis or Vitznau in a day, but I knew we could go down by rail in about an hour, so I chose the latter method. I wanted to see what it was like, anyway. The train came along about the middle of the afternoon, and an odd thing it was. The locomotive-boiler stood on end, and it and the whole locomotive were tilted sharply backward. There were two passenger-cars, roofed, but wide open all around. These cars were not tilted back, but the seats were; this enables the passenger to sit level while going down a steep incline.

There are three railway-tracks; the central one is cogged; the “lantern wheel” of the engine grips its way along these cogs, and pulls the train up the hill or retards its motion on the down trip. About the same speed—three miles an hour—is maintained both ways. Whether going up or down, the locomotive is always at the lower end of the train. It pushes in the one case, braces back in the other. The passenger rides backward going up, and faces forward going down.

We got front seats, and while the train moved along about fifty yards on level ground, I was not the least frightened; but now it started abruptly downstairs, and I caught my breath. And I, like my neighbors, unconsciously held back all I could, and threw my weight to the rear, but, of course, that did no particular good. I had slidden down the balusters when I was a boy, and thought nothing of it, but to slide down the balusters in a railway-train is a thing to make one’s flesh creep. Sometimes we had as much as ten yards of almost level ground, and this gave us a few full breaths in comfort; but straightway we would turn a corner and see a long steep line of rails stretching down below us, and the comfort was at an end. One expected to see the locomotive pause, or slack up a little, and approach this plunge cautiously, but it did nothing of the kind; it went calmly on, and went it reached the jumping-off place it made a sudden bow, and went gliding smoothly downstairs, untroubled by the circumstances.

It was wildly exhilarating to slide along the edge of the precipices, after this grisly fashion, and look straight down upon that far-off valley which I was describing a while ago.

There was no level ground at the Kaltbad station; the railbed was as steep as a roof; I was curious to see how the stop was going to be managed. But it was very simple; the train came sliding down, and when it reached the right spot it just stopped—that was all there was “to it”—stopped on the steep incline, and when the exchange of passengers and baggage had been made, it moved off and went sliding down again. The train can be stopped anywhere, at a moment’s notice.

There was one curious effect, which I need not take the trouble to describe—because I can scissor a description of it out of the railway company’s advertising pamphlet, and save my ink:

“On the whole tour, particularly at the Descent, we undergo an optical illusion which often seems to be incredible. All the shrubs, fir trees, stables, houses, etc., seem to be bent in a slanting direction, as by an immense pressure of air. They are all standing awry, so much awry that the chalets and cottages of the peasants seem to be tumbling down. It is the consequence of the steep inclination of the line. Those who are seated in the carriage do not observe that they are going down a declivity of twenty to twenty-five degrees (their seats being adapted to this course of proceeding and being bent down at their backs). They mistake their carriage and its horizontal lines for a proper measure of the normal plain, and therefore all the objects outside which really are in a horizontal position must show a disproportion of twenty to twenty-five degrees declivity, in regard to the mountain.”

By the time one reaches Kaltbad, he has acquired confidence in the railway, and he now ceases to try to ease the locomotive by holding back. Thenceforth he smokes his pipe in serenity, and gazes out upon the magnificent picture below and about him with unfettered enjoyment. There is nothing to interrupt the view or the breeze; it is like inspecting the world on the wing. However—to be exact—there is one place where the serenity lapses for a while; this is while one is crossing the Schnurrtobel Bridge, a frail structure which swings its gossamer frame down through the dizzy air, over a gorge, like a vagrant spider-strand.

One has no difficulty in remembering his sins while the train is creeping down this bridge; and he repents of them, too; though he sees, when he gets to Vitznau, that he need not have done it, the bridge was perfectly safe.

So ends the eventual trip which we made to the Rigi-Kulm to see an Alpine sunrise.

CHAPTER XXX. [Harris Climbs Mountains for Me]

An hour’s sail brought us to Lucerne again. I judged it best to go to bed and rest several days, for I knew that the man who undertakes to make the tour of Europe on foot must take care of himself.

Thinking over my plans, as mapped out, I perceived that they did not take in the Furka Pass, the Rhone Glacier, the Finsteraarhorn, the Wetterhorn, etc. I immediately examined the guide-book to see if these were important, and found they were; in fact, a pedestrian tour of Europe could not be complete without them. Of course that decided me at once to see them, for I never allow myself to do things by halves, or in a slurring, slipshod way.

I called in my agent and instructed him to go without delay and make a careful examination of these noted places, on foot, and bring me back a written report of the result, for insertion in my book. I instructed him to go to Hospenthal as quickly as possible, and make his grand start from there; to extend his foot expedition as far as the Giesbach fall, and return to me from thence by diligence or mule. I told him to take the courier with him.

He objected to the courier, and with some show of reason, since he was about to venture upon new and untried ground; but I thought he might as well learn how to take care of the courier now as later, therefore I enforced my point. I said that the trouble, delay, and inconvenience of traveling with a courier were balanced by the deep respect which a courier’s presence commands, and I must insist that as much style be thrown into my journeys as possible.

So the two assumed complete mountaineering costumes and departed. A week later they returned, pretty well used up, and my agent handed me the following:

Official Report
By H. Harris, Agent
About seven o’clock in the morning, with perfectly fine weather, we started from Hospenthal, and arrived at the maison on the Furka in a little under quatre hours. The want of variety in the scenery from Hospenthal made the Kahkahponeeka wearisome; but let none be discouraged; no one can fail to be completely r’ecompens’ee for his fatigue, when he sees, for the first time, the monarch of the Oberland, the tremendous Finsteraarhorn. A moment before all was dullness, but a pas further has placed us on the summit of the Furka; and exactly in front of us, at a hopow of only fifteen miles, this magnificent mountain lifts its snow-wreathed precipices into the deep blue sky. The inferior mountains on each side of the pass form a sort of frame for the picture of their dread lord, and close in the view so completely that no other prominent feature in the Oberland is visible from this bong-a-bong; nothing withdraws the attention from the solitary grandeur of the Finsteraarhorn and the dependent spurs which form the abutments of the central peak.

With the addition of some others, who were also bound for the Grimsel, we formed a large xhvloj as we descended the steg which winds round the shoulder of a mountain toward the Rhone Glacier. We soon left the path and took to the ice; and after wandering amongst the crevices un peu, to admire the wonders of these deep blue caverns, and hear the rushing of waters through their subglacial channels, we struck out a course toward l’autre cravasse and crossed the glacier successfully, a little above the cave from which the infant Rhone takes its first bound from under the grand precipice of ice. Half a mile below this we began to climb the flowery side of the Meienwand. One of our party started before the rest, but the hitze was so great, that we found ihm quite exhausted, and lying at full length in the shade of a large gestein. We sat down with him for a time, for all felt the heat exceedingly in the climb up this very steep bolwoggoly, and then we set out again together, and arrived at last near the Dead Man’s Lake, at the foot of the Sidelhorn. This lonely spot, once used for an extempore burying-place, after a sanguinary battue between the French and Austrians, is the perfection of desolation; there is nothing in sight to mark the hand of man, except the line of weather-beaten whitened posts, set up to indicate the direction of the pass in the owdawakk of winter. Near this point the footpath joins the wider track, which connects the Grimsel with the head of the Rhone schnawp; this has been carefully constructed, and leads with a tortuous course among and over les pierres, down to the bank of the gloomy little swosh-swosh, which almost washes against the walls of the Grimsel Hospice. We arrived a little before four o’clock at the end of our day’s journey, hot enough to justify the step, taking by most of the partie, of plunging into the crystal water of the snow-fed lake.

The next afternoon we started for a walk up the Unteraar glacier, with the intention of, at all events, getting as far as the Hutte which is used as a sleeping-place by most of those who cross the Strahleck Pass to Grindelwald. We got over the tedious collection of stones and débris which covers the pied of the gletcher, and had walked nearly three hours from the Grimsel, when, just as we were thinking of crossing over to the right, to climb the cliffs at the foot of the hut, the clouds, which had for some time assumed a threatening appearance, suddenly dropped, and a huge mass of them, driving toward us from the Finsteraarhorn, poured down a deluge of haboolong and hail. Fortunately, we were not far from a very large glacier-table; it was a huge rock balanced on a pedestal of ice high enough to admit of our all creeping under it for gowkarak. A stream of puckittypukk had furrowed a course for itself in the ice at its base, and we were obliged to stand with one fuss on each side of this, and endeavor to keep ourselves chaud by cutting steps in the steep bank of the pedestal, so as to get a higher place for standing on, as the wasser rose rapidly in its trench. A very cold bzzzzzzzzeee accompanied the storm, and made our position far from pleasant; and presently came a flash of blitzen, apparently in the middle of our little party, with an instantaneous clap of yokky, sounding like a large gun fired close to our ears; the effect was startling; but in a few seconds our attention was fixed by the roaring echoes of the thunder against the tremendous mountains which completely surrounded us. This was followed by many more bursts, none of welche, however, was so dangerously near; and after waiting a long demi-hour in our icy prison, we sallied out to talk through a haboolong which, though not so heavy as before, was quite enough to give us a thorough soaking before our arrival at the Hospice.

The Grimsel is certainement a wonderful place; situated at the bottom of a sort of huge crater, the sides of which are utterly savage gebirge, composed of barren rocks which cannot even support a single pine arbre, and afford only scanty food for a herd of gmwkwllolp, it looks as if it must be completely begraben in the winter snows. Enormous avalanches fall against it every spring, sometimes covering everything to the depth of thirty or forty feet; and, in spite of walls four feet thick, and furnished with outside shutters, the two men who stay here when the voyageurs are snugly quartered in their distant homes can tell you that the snow sometimes shakes the house to its foundations.

Next morning the hogglebumgullup still continued bad, but we made up our minds to go on, and make the best of it. Half an hour after we started, the regen thickened unpleasantly, and we attempted to get shelter under a projecting rock, but being far to nass already to make standing at all agréable, we pushed on for the Handeck, consoling ourselves with the reflection that from the furious rushing of the river Aar at our side, we should at all events see the celebrated wasserfall in grande perfection. Nor were we nappersocket in our expectation; the water was roaring down its leap of two hundred and fifty feet in a most magnificent frenzy, while the trees which cling to its rocky sides swayed to and fro in the violence of the hurricane which it brought down with it; even the stream, which falls into the main cascade at right angles, and toutefois forms a beautiful feature in the scene, was now swollen into a raging torrent; and the violence of this “meeting of the waters,” about fifty feet below the frail bridge where we stood, was fearfully grand. While we were looking at it, gléecklicheweise a gleam of sunshine came out, and instantly a beautiful rainbow was formed by the spray, and hung in mid-air suspended over the awful gorge.

On going into the chalet above the fall, we were informed that a bruecke had broken down near Guttanen, and that it would be impossible to proceed for some time; accordingly we were kept in our drenched condition for ein stunde, when some voyageurs arrived from Meiringen, and told us that there had been a trifling accident, aber that we could now cross. On arriving at the spot, I was much inclined to suspect that the whole story was a ruse to make us slowwk and drink the more at the Handeck Inn, for only a few planks had been carried away, and though there might perhaps have been some difficulty with mules, the gap was certainly not larger than a mmbglx might cross with a very slight leap. Near Guttanen the haboolong happily ceased, and we had time to walk ourselves tolerably dry before arriving at Reichenback, so we enjoyed a good dinér at the Hotel des Alps.

Next morning we walked to Rosenlaui, the beau idéal of Swiss scenery, where we spent the middle of the day in an excursion to the glacier. This was more beautiful than words can describe, for in the constant progress of the ice it has changed the form of its extremity and formed a vast cavern, as blue as the sky above, and rippled like a frozen ocean. A few steps cut in the whoopjamboreehoo enabled us to walk completely under this, and feast our eyes upon one of the loveliest objects in creation. The glacier was all around divided by numberless fissures of the same exquisite color, and the finest wood-erdbeeren were growing in abundance but a few yards from the ice. The inn stands in a charmant spot close to the Coté de la riviére, which, lower down, forms the Reichenbach fall, and embosomed in the richest of pine woods, while the fine form of the Wellhorn looking down upon it completes the enchanting bopple. In the afternoon we walked over the Great Scheideck to Grindelwald, stopping to pay a visit to the Upper glacier by the way; but we were again overtaken by bad hogglebumgullup and arrived at the hotel in a solche a state that the landlord’s wardrobe was in great request.

The clouds by this time seemed to have done their worst, for a lovely day succeeded, which we determined to devote to an ascent of the Faulhorn. We left Grindelwald just as a thunder-storm was dying away, and we hoped to find guten wetter up above; but the rain, which had nearly ceased, began again, and we were struck by the rapidly increasing froid as we ascended. Two-thirds of the way up were completed when the rain was exchanged for gnillic, with which the boden was thickly covered, and before we arrived at the top the gnillic and mist became so thick that we could not see one another at more than twenty poopoo distance, and it became difficult to pick our way over the rough and thickly covered ground. Shivering with cold, we turned into bed with a double allowance of clothes, and slept comfortably while the wind howled autour de la maison; when I awoke, the wall and the window looked equally dark, but in another hour I found I could just see the form of the latter; so I jumped out of bed, and forced it open, though with great difficulty from the frost and the quantities of gnillic heaped up against it.

A row of huge icicles hung down from the edge of the roof, and anything more wintry than the whole anblick could not well be imagined; but the sudden appearance of the great mountains in front was so startling that I felt no inclination to move toward bed again. The snow which had collected upon la fénetre had increased the finsterniss oder der dunkelheit, so that when I looked out I was surprised to find that the daylight was considerable, and that the balragoomah would evidently rise before long. Only the brightest of les étoiles were still shining; the sky was cloudless overhead, though small curling mists lay thousands of feet below us in the valleys, wreathed around the feet of the mountains, and adding to the splendor of their lofty summits. We were soon dressed and out of the house, watching the gradual approach of dawn, thoroughly absorbed in the first near view of the Oberland giants, which broke upon us unexpectedly after the intense obscurity of the evening before. “Kabaugwakko songwashee kum wetterhorn snawpo!” cried some one, as that grand summit gleamed with the first rose of dawn; and in a few moments the double crest of the Schreckhorn followed its example; peak after peak seemed warmed with life, the Jungfrau blushed even more beautifully than her neighbors, and soon, from the Wetterhorn in the east to the Wildstrubel in the west, a long row of fires glowed upon mighty altars, truly worthy of the gods.

The wlgw was very severe; our sleeping-place could hardly be distingueé from the snow around it, which had fallen to a depth of a flirk during the past evening, and we heartily enjoyed a rough scramble en bas to the Giesbach falls, where we soon found a warm climate. At noon the day before Grindelwald the thermometer could not have stood at less than 100 degrees Fahr. in the sun; and in the evening, judging from the icicles formed, and the state of the windows, there must have been at least twelve dingblatter of frost, thus giving a change of 80 degrees during a few hours.

I said:

“You have done well, Harris; this report is concise, compact, well expressed; the language is crisp, the descriptions are vivid and not needlessly elaborated; your report goes straight to the point, attends strictly to business, and doesn’t fool around. It is in many ways an excellent document. But it has a fault—it is too learned, it is much too learned. What is ‘dingblatter’?

“‘Dingblatter’ is a Fiji word meaning ‘degrees.’”

“You knew the English of it, then?”

“Oh, yes.”

“What is ‘gnillic’?

“That is the Eskimo term for ‘snow.’”

“So you knew the English for that, too?”

“Why, certainly.”

“What does ‘mmbglx’ stand for?”

“That is Zulu for ‘pedestrian.’”

“‘While the form of the Wellhorn looking down upon it completes the enchanting bopple.’ What is ‘bopple’?”

“‘Picture.’ It’s Choctaw.”

“What is ‘schnawp’?”

“‘Valley.’ That is Choctaw, also.”

“What is ‘bolwoggoly’?”

“That is Chinese for ‘hill.’”


“‘Ascent.’ Choctaw.”

“‘But we were again overtaken by bad hogglebumgullup.’ What does ‘hogglebumgullup’ mean?”

“That is Chinese for ‘weather.’”

“Is ‘hogglebumgullup’ better than the English word? Is it any more descriptive?”

“No, it means just the same.”

“And ‘dingblatter’ and ‘gnillic,’ and ‘bopple,’ and ‘schnawp’—are they better than the English words?”

“No, they mean just what the English ones do.”

“Then why do you use them? Why have you used all this Chinese and Choctaw and Zulu rubbish?”

“Because I didn’t know any French but two or three words, and I didn’t know any Latin or Greek at all.”

“That is nothing. Why should you want to use foreign words, anyhow?”

“They adorn my page. They all do it.”

“Who is ‘all’?”

“Everybody. Everybody that writes elegantly. Anybody has a right to that wants to.”

“I think you are mistaken.” I then proceeded in the following scathing manner. “When really learned men write books for other learned men to read, they are justified in using as many learned words as they please—their audience will understand them; but a man who writes a book for the general public to read is not justified in disfiguring his pages with untranslated foreign expressions. It is an insolence toward the majority of the purchasers, for it is a very frank and impudent way of saying, ‘Get the translations made yourself if you want them, this book is not written for the ignorant classes.’ There are men who know a foreign language so well and have used it so long in their daily life that they seem to discharge whole volleys of it into their English writings unconsciously, and so they omit to translate, as much as half the time. That is a great cruelty to nine out of ten of the man’s readers. What is the excuse for this? The writer would say he only uses the foreign language where the delicacy of his point cannot be conveyed in English. Very well, then he writes his best things for the tenth man, and he ought to warn the nine other not to buy his book. However, the excuse he offers is at least an excuse; but there is another set of men who are like you; they know a word here and there, of a foreign language, or a few beggarly little three-word phrases, filched from the back of the Dictionary, and these are continually peppering into their literature, with a pretense of knowing that language—what excuse can they offer? The foreign words and phrases which they use have their exact equivalents in a nobler language—English; yet they think they ‘adorn their page’ when they say strasse for street, and bahnhof for railway-station, and so on—flaunting these fluttering rags of poverty in the reader’s face and imagining he will be ass enough to take them for the sign of untold riches held in reserve. I will let your ‘learning’ remain in your report; you have as much right, I suppose, to ‘adorn your page’ with Zulu and Chinese and Choctaw rubbish as others of your sort have to adorn theirs with insolent odds and ends smouched from half a dozen learned tongues whose a-b abs they don’t even know.”

When the musing spider steps upon the red-hot shovel, he first exhibits a wild surprise, then he shrivels up. Similar was the effect of these blistering words upon the tranquil and unsuspecting Agent. I can be dreadfully rough on a person when the mood takes me.